No race win but McLaughlin takes points bat­tle

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN MCKAY

HE didn’t win but Scott McLaughlin heads to Bathurst happy and con­fi­dent af­ter in­crea­se­ing his lead over Jamie Whin­cup in the Su­per­cars ti­tle race at the Sandown 500.

McLaughlin, paired with Alex Pre­mat through the En­duro se­ries, couldn’t get close enough to race win­ners Cam Wa­ters and Richie Stan­away yes­ter­day. But the DJR Team Penske man sprayed cham­pagne from the sec­ond step on the podium, and for the Kiwi, that was good enough.

“It was our main goal this week­end to come out and try to beat our cham­pi­onship con­tenders,” he said. “The best thing was to fin­ish sec­ond and ahead of ev­ery­one else.

“It’s al­most a win for me. We’ve come away from this week­end with a nice warm-up for Bathurst.”

McLaughlin en­tered the en­durance races with a 12-point buf­fer over Jamie Whin­cup, com­pet­ing in the en­durance races with Paul Dum­brell.

Whin­cup’s tyre punc­ture dropped the six-time champ 84 points adrift.

McLaughlin’s Penske Fal­con team­mate Fabian Coulthard is third, a fur­ther 77 points back. There’s a new fourth, with Chaz Mostert’s podium lift­ing him above reign­ing cham­pion Shane Van Gis­ber­gen.

Mostert has strung to­gether seven straight top-five fin­ishes – an­swer­ing the con­sis­tency ques­tions that dogged him.

But does that mean the 2014 Bathurst champ is in the ti­tle race? “I don’t know,” the Ford man said. “This week­end even in the wet our car was re­ally re­ally quick.

“I was re­ally shocked to be on the podium af­ter go­ing back to the pack (af­ter a five-sec­ond penalty to co-driver Steve Owen) but we race cars hard and closed some gaps.

“At Bathurst, we’ve seen Jamie and Paul over the years have had the quick­est car and if you don’t have luck on your side you don’t get it done.”

Scott McLaughlin.

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